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Bookshare: An Online Library for the Print Impaired

Bookshare is a site that provides free digital books to those whose disabilities make reading a traditional printed book very hard or impossible. Since Bookshare just celebrated 10 years in business, we thought it would be a great opportunity to highlight the great resources the site provides for students with disabilities.

Bookshare is completely legal, as it operates under the Chafee Amendment. This amendment is an exception to US copyright law that allows books to be freely distributed to those with certain disabilities, as long as the books are in a format that accommodates those disabilities. Bookshare serves those with visual impairments, physical disabilities (those that prevent one from holding a book or turning pages, for example), as well as those with severe learning or reading disabilities.

To accommodate different disabilities, the books come in a few formats. Bookshare supplies ebooks with additional text-to-speech, braille, and large print options. Most books are scanned and turned into ebooks by Bookshare volunteers, while some are even donated directly from publishing companies. Once you become a member of Bookshare, you are free to browse and download the entire ebook collection.

With hundreds of thousands of accessible, print-impaired-friendly books, Bookshare is an incredibly valuable resource for students, teachers, or parents.